SPRINGFIELD — In a game where both teams seemed to struggle early Northmont took a 7-3 halftime lead at Springfield, and then fell behind early in the second half before rallying to post a 22-10 victory.
With the win the Thunderbolts improved to 5-2 and the Wildcats fell to 5-2 overall.
Just like the Wayne game two weeks ago Northmont coughed up the ball on its first possession on a fumble with Springfield recovering the ball at the Thunderbolts’ 47. After moving the ball to the 24 the Wildcats got slapped with a pair of holding penalties and were forced to punt.
Northmont got rolling with a 10 play, 80 yard drive with Miles Johnson completing six passes to set up a four yard touchdown run by Devin Kenerly. Brandon Goodwin’s kick gave the Thunderbolts a 7-0 lead with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
Kenerly had another outstanding game for the T-Bolts. He rushed for 264 yards on 31 carries with three touchdowns and accounted for about two-thirds of Northmont’s total offensive output.
“It was kind of a weird atmosphere at the beginning of the game,” said Northmont Coach Tony Broering. “We came out and got the lead but we just weren’t firing on all cylinders for awhile, but once we got it rolling we are tough to stop… especially with Devin Kenerly. Every week he gets stronger and stronger and better and better. He is great.”
Springfield’s only points in the first half came on a 30 yard field goal by Braeden Carey.
The Wildcats took a 10-7 lead early in the second half. Michael Brown-Stephens returned the second half kickoff 53 yards to the Northmont 32 to give Springfield excellent field position. Two plays later Leonard Taylor tossed a 31 yard touchdown to Caleb Johnson and Braeden Carey’s extra-point kick give the Wildcats a 10-7 lead.
Northmont responded with a touchdown within 1:07. On the first play from scrimmage Kenerly broke loose for a 32 yard gain to the Wildcats’ 32 yard line. He then ripped off an 18 yard run for a first and goal at the six and two plays later crashed into the end zone from a yard out. Goodwin’s kick put Northmont up 14-10 and from there the Thunderbolts never looked back.
The defense shut down the Wildcats the remainder of the game by harassing Springfield’s 6-foot, 6-inch quarterback Leonard Taylor to disrupt the Springfield offense.
The Wildcats appeared to get a break late in the third quarter when Kameron Mathis caught a pass deep in Springfield territory but had the ball jarred loose by Kendric Holt. Quincy Scott recovered the football inside the five but ran into the end zone trying to avoid getting tackled and then tried to run the ball out. As he was surrounded by tacklers Scott tried to lateral the ball but threw it forward resulting in a safety. That gave Northmont a 16-10 lead and the Wildcats had to kick the ball back to Northmont as a result of the safety. Drake Hickman returned the free kick 29 yards to the Springfield 35.
Northmont drove to the two yard line and on fourth down passed up a field goal attempt. The snap from center deflected off a Northmont player and Miles Johnson covered the ball at the six where Springfield took over on downs.
The Wildcats couldn’t sustain a drive and were forced to punt. Northmont took over at its 18 where Kenerly dealt the death blow to the Wildcats. On first down Kenerly broke through the line and romped 69 yards to Springfield’s 13 yard line. Two plays later Kenerly scored on a six yard run. A two-point conversion failed but Northmont took a 22-10 lead and kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard the remainder of the game to seal the victory.
“Miles Johnson did a great job managing the clock and controlling the tempo for us and our offensive line probably played their best game of the year,” Broering said. “I told the boys before the game that we have worked very hard on this championship run and they have paid the price. They have done the work in the weight room and by conditioning and they deserve to be where they are.”
Northmont will have to clear a major hurdle next week to keep its playoff hopes alive when undefeated Centerville (7-0) invades Northmont Stadium on homecoming night.
“Centerville is what I would consider the traditional measuring stick in our league,” Broering added. “When I first started coaching here (Springfield) that was always our goal, to beat Centerville. Nothing has changed in the 26 years that I have been coaching. Centerville is still Centerville, but we are pretty good too so it is going to be a good game. They have some good players and we have some good players.”
Unlike past Centerville teams, this year’s version throws the ball much more. Broering feels the Elks have a good running back, a good quarterback and some wide outs that can get the ball down the field.
“It’s going to be like tonight’s game,” Broering said.
Northmont was without the services of wide receiver and kick return specialist Jabari Perkins who sat out the Springfield game as a precautionary measure due to some minor injuries. He should be ready to go against Centerville.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind